Today we celebrate TWO Schuyler sisters' birthdays! #OTD in 1756, Angelica Schuyler was the first child born to Catharine van Rensselaer and Philip Schuyler. #OTD in 1781, exactly 25 years later, Catharine "Caty" Schuyler was the final child born to her parents.
When Angelica was born, her father wrote in the family bible: "In the year 1756 February the 20th at 4 o’clock in the afternoon was born our first child a daughter named Engeltie [...] The Lord grant that she may grow up in His fear and enter into salvation." 25 years later, he wrote upon Caty's birth: "1781 was born our fifteenth child named Catharine Van Renselaer. Let her, O Lord, grow up in virtue and to Thy glory witness."
By the time Caty was born, Angelica already had two children! Angelica and Caty were members of separate generations and grew up under incredibly different circumstances. Angelica was born during the French and Indian War, and came of age at the height of the Revolutionary era. Fitting for her time, much of her political and cultural life was oriented around the major coastal cities of the US, and overseas to England and France.
Caty, on the other hand was born in 1781, just two years before the official end of the war, which means she would grow up never truly having known a world in which an independent United States of America did not exist. While much of her early education took place in NYC, as had that of her older sisters, as an adult she spent the majority of her life in the Central New York and Lake Ontario regions, at the same time that commercial trade along the Great Lakes was transforming the new nation.
As we marvel at the complexities of generational experience, let us take a moment to wish a happy birthday to these two sisters who grew up in the same family, but in two completely different worlds.
The image to the left shows Angelica as a mother, with another woman (likely a servant) standing behind her. The image to the right shows Caty as a mother many years later.